Akita Inu Health Problems and Raising an Akita Inu Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The most common health problems in Akita Inus:
According to an Akita Club health survey, the two leading causes of death are:
- Cancer. Especially lymphosarcoma and osteosarcoma.
- Bloat. The Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine reports that the Akita Inu is the SECOND most likely breed to develop this emergency gastrointestinal syndrome (second only to the Great Dane).
Cancer and bloat kill 42% of all Akitas.
Orthopedic health problems were ultimately responsible for another 16% of Akita Inu deaths in the club survey. Most common is hip dysplasia. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 14,500 Akitas and found 13% dysplastic, which is high. Other orthopedic diseases in Akita Inus are elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, luxating patella, osteochondritis, and a rare disease called chondrodysplasia.
Autoimmune diseases, where an Akita Inu's defective immune system "turns" on its own body and damages it, killed another 7% of Akitas in the club survey.
- When the defective immune system targets the skin, the result can be pemphigus, lupus, or vitiligo. Or sebaceous adenitis, a nasty disease that occurs more often in Akitas than in any other breed except Standard Poodles. Or uveo-dermatological syndrome (aka Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome). VKH attacks the skin and the eyes and it is incurable. Typically appearing around 18 months old, the first symptom is usually a bloodshot inflammation of the eyes. The pupils may appear tiny. Even with steroids and immune suppressant drugs, vision usually canít be preserved for very long.
- In autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the defective immune system destroys red blood cells.
- Hypothyroidism is a common autoimmune problem in Akita Inus. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 17% of Akitas have low thyroid levels. This can be treated with thyroid supplementation, but the biggest concern with hypothyroidism in Akitas is that it has been linked to sudden aggressive behavior in this breed.
- Other autoimmune diseases reported in the Akita Inu are myasthenia gravis, colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) and degenerative spinal myelopathy.
- Finally, a severe form of autoimmune arthritis called juvenile onset polyarthritis can strike Akitas under a year old.
Allergies cause itchy skin in Akita Inus and can lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).
Eye diseases include entropion, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), corneal dystrophy, retinal dysplasia, cataracts (often combined with abnormally small eyes), glaucoma, and cherry eye.
Endocrine system diseases in Akitas include Addison's disease, Cushing's disease, and diabetes.
Other health issues occurring in Akita Unos include epilepsy and blood-clotting diseases (specifically, von Willebrand's disease and thrombocytopenia).
Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Akita Inu?
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Akita Inus today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find an Akita Inu puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Akita Inu puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Akita Inu puppy or adult dog:
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Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2015 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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